By Danny Picard
BOSTON --Tuukka Rask finished last season three games under .500. Buthis 11-14 record didnt necessarily tell the whole story.
For those who watched, Rasks record didnt justify hisperformance. What justified his performance was his 2.67 goals-against averagein 29 regular-season appearances.
It was the rest of the Bruins that hardly ever seemed toshow up on nights in which Rask was between the pipes.
Monday afternoon told a similar story, as Rask made hisfirst start of the season, and his first appearance since April 10. And just as he left off, Rask made 35 saves and allowed only one goal.
But still, Rask picked up the loss.
Hes probably the only bright light on this game today,said Bruins coach Claude Julien after the Colorado Avalanche defeated theBruins 1-0 on Monday at the TD Garden. Had it not been for him, this gamecould have probably been over much sooner than it was. He kept us in there andgave us a chance. And we just didnt respond.
The lone goal of the game came eight minutes into the thirdperiod, when a low Milan Hejduk wrister from the right circle deflected offZdeno Charas shin pad and snuck through Rasks five-hole.
We lost the draw, and then they got the puck there and kindof just dangled over to the middle a little bit, said Rask. Hejduk shot it,and it hit a shin pad and bounced in.
I was screened, but I saw the show going and where Ithought it was going. Then it just deflected off something and went in.
Rask should probably be frustrated with the way his teamplayed in front of him and on the other end of the ice. Not just because ithappened on Monday his first start of the season. But also because its anissue thats carried over from last season, when hes between the pipes.
His teammates realize theyre the ones to blame for Mondaysloss, not Rask.
When Tuukka plays a game like he did tonight, we have tocome through for him, said Bruins forward Brad Marchand. Thats something wedidnt do. We left him stranded a bit. He gave us every opportunity to win. Wejust didnt capitalize when we needed to.
He played great, said forward Milan Lucic. You cant ask for much morethan how he played today. He kept us in it the whole night and gave us a chanceto win it. And it sucks on the other end. As one of our players we werent ableto do anything for him on the other end.
If theres anything good to come out of Mondays game, itwas Rask. Not just because he made 35 saves and allowed only one goal. Butbecause he did it while not feeling his best.
I was telling Timmy Thomas before the game, you get thatlittle nervousness in you because its the first game, said Rask. I haventplayed in a long time in a real situation, so I felt kind of weird before thegame. But once the puck dropped and I got into that groove, I felt pretty good.
Its not the greatest Ive ever felt, but still for thefirst game in a long time, I felt pretty good.
Rask gained his in-game confidence by helping kill off a5-on-3 Avalanche power play in the opening minutes.
As the season progresses, Rask expects his confidence togrow even more. He just hopes the wins will follow.
It dont matter if you lose 10-0 or 1-0, its still aloss, said Rask. But we definitely didnt play our full 60-minute effort,thats for sure.
What can you do, right? Whatever, added Rask when askedabout similarities to last season. I mean, my first game of the year. If ithappens 30 times a year, obviously it gets kind of frustrating. But Im not tooworried about it yet, no.
As well he shouldnt be.
Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.